PhD Summer School on circular business models in the chemical industry
August 20 – Sept 2, 2017, Gothenburg and Frankfurt

Turn your research into practice and create climate and business impact with our PhD Summer School on Sustainable Production Systems. The industrial sector uses a large part of raw materials and more than half of the global energy consumption. Where better than here could innovations lead to meaningful transitions? Apply the concepts of closed-loop value chains and circular economy to innovation processes for one of the major manufacturing industries in Europe: the chemical industry which will serve as a case study for the two-week programme. Engage with stakeholders, discuss with experts, work in interdisciplinary teams and develop innovative solutions for the real-life challenges of chemical companies and clusters.

This summer school is organised in cooperation with:

Logo Provadis Hochschule gross   chalmers c logo   infraserv hoechst RGB gross     akzonobel



The Challenge
The established industry faces changing market demands and new requirements regarding sustainable usage of material and feedstock. Circular economy models, focusing on the integration of different players along the entire value chain, become an important tool in meeting these demands. At the same time, they require to create new partnerships and new forms of cross-company interaction. Industry clusters offer benefits, but also challenge the companies to rethink not only energy and feedstock streams. Unlocking their full innovation potential requires from them to examine how their business model interacts with those of the other cluster members.

But in which areas can companies work together? When can they benefit from a cluster setting? Can sustainability demands best met when working across different stakeholders in the value chain? And how do the business models of companies interact in cooperative settings?

The hosting companies
In Gothenburg as well as in Frankfurt you will get to know the challenge from different perspectives and learn from these particular cases. This will allow you to link your theoretical knowledge with real-life questions.

In Sweden, you will get to know the perspective of a chemical company (AkzoNobel), member of the West Swedish Chemical and Material Cluster, a decentralized cluster focused on questions of feedstock, resource and energy efficiency as well as recycling. Its aim is to foster sustainability in the chemical industry. It comprises of around twenty stakeholders from academia, industry and the public sector. AkzoNobel is a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals.

The German challenge owner presents the cluster perspective: Infraserv Höchst is the service provider of one of the largest industrial parks in Europe, the Industriepark Höchst. The park contains of 90 companies, most of them from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry with more than 20.000 employees. Large international companies such as Clariant, Sanofi, Celanese and Bayer CropScience hold manufacturing or research sites in Frankfurt. Infraserv provides the infrastructure for all located companies, covering areas such as energy, waste, health and mobility.
You will have exclusive access to these corporations and work with each of them and their challenges – a valuable networking opportunity for your individual career development, as it will get you in touch with potential future collaborators.

Aim of the summer school
Our Summer School offers a learning-by-experiencing approach to tackle real-life challenges. Providing a broad range of in-depth theoretical knowledge, hands-on cases to apply the learning, inter-disciplinary thinking and cooperation, you will be able to boost your skills through the summer in Sweden and Germany.

The summer school is designed with the following central learning objectives inspired by the general C-KIC summer school concept:

  • To equip participants with the knowledge of transformative, socio-technical innovation using a systems approach to deliver knowledge
  • To exchange ideas between students and experts and to develop new project ideas for innovation in the industry
  • To provide practice oriented tools that will enrich the student’s individual projects (e.g. backcasting methodology)

To enable PhD students to link their individual research projects to low carbon finance and innovation activities.
It is a unique opportunity for you:

  • To combine theory with practice in the field of business model analysis and circular economy.
  • To develop innovation strategies and ideas for stakeholder cooperation.
  • To meet, discuss and question key business leaders and policy-makers.
  • To get in touch with people from all over the world and to work in interdisciplinary teams.

Based in the city of Gothenburg and the city of Frankfurt, you will attend lectures, workshops and discussions; meet and discuss with world renowned experts, work with companies, and come up with solutions to drive our carbon neutral future. Guided by a learning coach you will work in interdisciplinary groups on the real-life challenges of the hosting companies. And, of course, enjoy leisure activities showcasing the cities you stay in.

Week 1 (20 Aug -27 Aug): Gothenburg

Sunday 20 August


Monday 21 August

Setting the scene: Sustainability challenges in the chemical industry
Introduction to industry clusters
Welcome dinner

Tuesday 22 August

Introduction to backcasting methodology
4 dimensions of sustainability

Wednesday 23 August

Methodology II
Transitions in socio-technical systems
The present state

Thursday 24 August

Site visit I
Excursion to the site of a chemical company
Presentation of the challenge from a company perspective

Friday 25 August

Business Model Theory
Design thinking workshop
Introduction to (circular) Business Model
Workshop on Business Model mapping


Trip to Frankfurt

Week 2 (28 Aug -2 Sept): Frankfurt

Sunday 27 August

Welcome in Frankfurt

Monday 28 August

Business Models in Practice
Introduction to the cluster perspective
Workshop on business model interactions

Tuesday 29 August

Site visit II
Excursion to the Industrial Park Höchst
Presentation of the challenge from a service provider perspective

Wednesday 30 August

Stakeholder dialogue
Workshop on dialogue tools
Dialogue session for group work with local stakeholders

Thursday 31 August

Group work
Preparation of summary and final presentations
Pitch training

Friday 1 September

Final Pitches
Presentations of group works in front of a jury
Wrap-up of the programme
Farewell dinner

Saturday 2 September



About the organisers
This Summer School is organised by Climate-KIC and its partners Chalmers University of Technology and Provadis School of International Management and Technology and will be hosted by these partners. The challenges have been developed together with Climate KIC’s Sustainable Production System-theme (SPS). The SPS theme works to catalyse the transition to a zero carbon economy by seed-funding high-impact climate solutions, facilitating innovative cross-industry co-operation and supporting technological as well as unique business model innovation in regional clusters and value chains.

Registration & Costs
The PhD Summer School is an integral part of Climate-KIC’s PhD programme, for Climate-KIC labelled students, costs are fully covered. Furthermore, we are happy to welcome students pursuing their PhD outside of Climate-KIC and who are interested in climate change topics. Post-graduates with outstanding skills and motivation to participate are also invited to apply.

For all non-labelled participants, the following fee applies:
800,- EUR.

The fee of the programme includes:

  • accommodation (in double rooms)
  • breakfast and lunch, approx. two dinners per week
  • local transportation & transfer from Gothenburg to Frankfurt

Participants need to cover the travel costs to Gothenburg and home from Frankfurt themselves. After the confirmation of acceptance, invoices will be sent out to participants. Course fees need to be paid three weeks before the start of the programme.
Main language is English; participants therefore should have sufficient language skills.

Please register for this summer school through our website until 1 July.

Contact us
In case of any questions concerning this PhD Summer school, feel free to contact Line Gry Knudsen (Education Lead) via